Crystal Palace Football Club is a professional football team located in South East London in the United Kingdom. They currently play in the Premier League and are competing in their seventh consecutive season in the top flight. The club play their home games at Selhurst Park and have the nickname the Eagles.
The club was founded on the 10th of September 1905, and they originally started with the nickname ‘The Glaziers’ due to the Crystal Palace Exhibition Hall being made almost entirely of glass. The club’s colours were originally claret and blue as the first manager, Edmund Goodman, brought spare kits to the club from his time at Aston Villa. The club wanted to start off in the Football League, however their application was rejected in favour of Chelsea, who had also formed in the same year. Palace had to settle for the Southern League Second Division, and blew the League out of the water and won the title first time of asking.
The club stayed in the Southern Division until 1914, when war broke out. The First World War caused Crystal Palace to have to vacate their first home in the grounds of the Crystal Palace Exhibition, thus making the club seek a temporary home at Herne Hill Velodrome. However, the stay there only lasted three years before a move to ‘The Nest’, which was located in the Selhurst area of Croydon.
The club was finally accepted into the Football League in 1920 and started in the Third Division. They once again won the League in their inaugural season and gained promotion to the Second Division. The club finally moved to a purpose-built ground called Selhurst Park in 1924, and the ground has remained home for the club until this day.
War once again broke out in 1939, causing all suspension of the Football League. Palace did win two Wartime Leagues but were less successful when the Football League started up again after the Second World War had concluded.
The club struggled to find any sort of good form after the war and stayed in the Division Three South until 1958.
But at the turn of the 1960s, the club started to become a force to be reckoned with once again. The 1960-61 season saw the appointing Arthur Row as manager; his style of play with attacking free flowing football was something the Palace faithful had not yet seen, and in his first year as manager the club gained promotion back to the Third Division, breaking all sort of club accolades in the process. The team scored a club season record of 110 goals in 46 matches, largely thanks to Johnny Byrne hitting 30 in the season. Palace also broke their record attendance as 37,774 flocked to Selhurst Park to watch Palace lose 2-0 to Millwall.
However, Palace’s star man was plucked from their ranks for a British record transfer fee at the time, when West Ham signed Johnny Byrne for £65,000, much to the dismay of Palace fans and players in South East London.
The Eagles faced up against the mighty Real Madrid in April 1962. Los Blancos had a star-studded team containing the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Pukas. Palace gave Real Madrid a hard fought match losing only 4-3, however they only played Palace due it being a friendly to welcome the new floodlights at Selhurst Park.
The end of the decade finally saw Palace make their way to the First Division. Palace, in the space of a decade, had seen the club rise from the ashes of the Fourth Division to the heights of the First Division, where the club felt like they belonged. Yet they struggled to establish themselves as a top division side, and after four years of struggling to stay up, the club was relegated back to the Second Division.
Furthermore, the association of the claret and blue was given the preverbal boot by Allison, and in came the red and blue vertical stripes that have become synonymous with Crystal Palace.
Malcolm Allison suffered back to back relegation during his time at Palace and failed to get the club back to where they felt they belonged, and, after only three years in the job, he resigned. Although the performances might not have been the best, Allison certainly left his mark on Palace and helped shape the club into what it is today.
Palace acted quickly and with Terry Venables playing days long gone, he was given a shot at the Palace as his first managerial gig. He quickly asserted himself as someone suited to management, getting the club back to the Second Division in his first season at the helm.
Even though the club had won promotion that season, the campaign was more remembered for the rivalry that would come to fruition in the FA Cup first round replay, when Palace played Brighton & Hove Albion. The two managers of the sides despised each other from their time at Tottenham Hotspur when they were both playing for the North London side.
Brighton’s manager Alan Mullery was incensed with rage after Palace had won the replay and had insulted the Palace fans after the game by throwing loose change on the floor implying the club was not worth that much. To this day, there exists a fierce rivalry between the two clubs, with their meeting being one of the biggest days in the footballing calendar.
That next season, Palace won promotion to the First Division in back to back promotions under Venables’ first two seasons in management. Palace needed a point heading into the final game of the season to earn promotion back to the top flight, whilst a win would see them clinch the title. A record crowd of 51,482 squeezed into Selhurst Park for the game against Burnley to watch the Eagles in anticipation of a return to the pinnacle of English football.
They defeated Burnley 2-0 and clinched the title over their now bitter rivals Brighton and thus intensified the hatred between the two sides. Palace had finally returned to the top flight after six years out of it and wasted no time in building a squad capable of competing.
The Eagles broke the club record transfer fee, with Gerry Francis and Mike Flanagan arriving in South East London. These two, combined with the youthful side and a few experienced heads that had helped gain the club promotion, saw a side come together with the ability to challenge for the league title. However they struggled to keep up with the pace of the league and the club had to sell of all their prize assets due to financial trouble; thus the team of the eighties was dismantled one by one.
Coppell built up a squad consisting of young hungry players, such as Andy Gray and a certain Ian Wright, who formed a formidable partnership with striker Mark Bright. The club once again reached the top division in 1998 defeating Blackburn in the Playoff Final and earning Palace a spot back in the Promised Land.
The club didn’t get off to the start they would have liked that season; they were humiliated 9-0 by a Liverpool side who were hungry for blood after losing out to Arsenal and narrowly to the title the season prior. Palace had to act quickly to try and make sure to avoid the ‘yo-yo’ tag they has become known for after struggling to maintain a top flight place. The club signed the first ever £1 million goalkeeper in Nigel Martin to help solidify the defence.
Palace finished 15th in their return to the First Division, but nevertheless the season was remembered for an incredible FA Cup run. Palace faced a Liverpool side in the FA Cup Semi-final, who had trounced the Eagles 9-0 earlier on in the season.
Palace made amends for the drubbing they had received and defeated Liverpool 4-3 thanks to a goal in extra time from Alan Pardew. This saw Palace get to their first FA Cup Final. They faced Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and were very unlucky to draw the first leg 3-3 when perhaps they should have gone on to win the first tie.
The replay proved too much for Palace as they lost 1-0 to United, handing Ferguson his first major trophy at Old Trafford. Palace were heartbroken but valiant in defeat.
However Palace channelled the disappointment of the Cup to focus their sights on the League. Next season, under Coppell, Palace would finish in their highest-ever league position, finishing third in the First Division and even earning a place in Europe. But unfortunately for Palace, English sides were banned from European competitions following the Heysel Stadium disaster, thus denying the club the chance at a European Cup run.
This season saw the club returning to Wembley once again and demolishing Everton 4-1 to win the Zenith Data Systems Cup; they finally lifted silver wear at Wembley after the heartbreak of the FA Cup final the season prior.
The failure of not playing in Europe set the club back, and they were forced to sell Ian Wright to Arsenal and Mark Bright to Sheffield Wednesday, and, as the Premier League was formed in 1992, the club were original members of the League, however were relegated in the first season with a record points tally of 49, a points total that still has not been broken today. Coppell resigned and thus brought an end to the time of one of the greatest manager and squad the club had yet.
Palace did manage to make Europe in 1998 when it competed in the UEFA InterToto Cup; they were knocked out in the first round by Turkish side Samsunspor, yet Palace had finally had a taste of European football.
In 1998, Palace fan, Mark Goldberg, took over his boyhood club Crystal Palace and promised the club the world. It was a deal where he bought the club, however was not able to purchase the ground which made the transaction much more complicated than it needed to be. Finances were very tight, and it seemed Goldberg’s wealth was not enough to keep the club above water; the Eagles were forced into administration.
Palace were saved by another fan, Simon Jordan, who bought the club as the youngest chairman in the Football League, being 32 at the time. Jordan was a controversial character in football; he refused to bow down to agents and was very outspoken about footballing politics.
Promotion and relegation occurred once again under Jordan’s tenure before Palace found themselves settled in the Championship. Nevertheless, the Palace rollercoaster started to get bumpy once again.
Jordan had to put the club into administration in 2010. The club had gone from promotion candidates that season to being docked 10 points and staring relegation in the face. Palace survived on the last day of the season following a 2-2 draw away at Sheffield Wednesday, thanks to goals from Darren Ambrose and Alan Lee.
Although Palace were safe, the club’s future was still under major threat and the Eagles were saved at the eleventh hour just as administrators were ready to liquidate the club. CPFC2010 bought the club and Palace fans could breathe a huge sigh of relief as there had been a serious concern that there might not be a Crystal Palace Football Club anymore.
In the 2012/13 season, Palace returned to the Premier League under the guidance of Ian Holloway and, largely thanks to Glenn Murray’s goals and the trickery of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie, Palace defeated rivals Brighton in the Semi-Final and booked a place at Wembley against Watford, in the most expensive game in world football the Play-off Final.
The Final was an equally matched affair; Palace nicked it 1-0 thanks to Kevin Phillips’ penalty which was enough to see Palace back to the Premier League, when they were expected that season to be battling relegation.
Palace have settled into Premier League life, and even made it to another FA Cup Final in 2016 once again against Manchester United, losing narrowly in extra time 2-1.
Palace is nearing its eighth consecutive season in the Premier League, having a clean bill of health when it comes to the club’s finances. Furthermore, the club under Roy Hodgson will be looking to push on for a potential record-breaking season in the Premier League once normal service resumes.
Biography written by Edmund Brack